Creating a Brighter Future for Everyone with Cboe Empowers

April 22, 2023

Cboe Empowers was established in June 2021 with a mission to provide mentorship, scholarship and guidance to under-resourced students throughout their educational journey through access to Cboe's associates, resources, work environment and other learning and experience opportunities. 

The first step in achieving that mission? A scholarship program for Black and Latinx students. In partnership with Scholarship America, Cboe launched the Cboe Empowers Scholars Program in December 2021. 

“For most under-resourced students, the biggest barrier to higher education is access and affordability,” says Kelli Haywood, Community Impact Manager. “We wanted to remove as many of the barriers as possible to give these students an opportunity to pursue their education without worrying about how they’ll pay their tuition or graduating with high amounts of student loan debt.” 

After receiving an overwhelming number of fantastic applications, Cboe awarded its first Empowers scholarships to five students from Chicago’s South and West sides in April 2022. A year later, Cboe expanded the program, awarding scholarships to five more students from Chicago and two students from the Kansas City area, bringing the total number of current Empowers Scholars to 12. 

“With Empowers, the goal isn’t to funnel more young people into financial services or Cboe,” she explains. “We just want to level the playing field, and the best way to do that is by enabling students to study what’s interesting and exciting to them and supporting them along the way.” 

The mentorship component is another key part of the Cboe Empowers Scholars program. In addition to Cboe Empowers’ overall mentorship program, which includes tutoring for students in fifth through eighth grade, scholarship recipients are with a mentor to support them through their educational journey. 

The mentors are Cboe associates who volunteer their time to provide guidance and serve as a sounding board to students navigating school, choosing a career path, applying to jobs and internships and everything else that comes with being a college student. 

“The beauty of having a mentor from the start is they can help you find your way,” she says. “It’s so valuable to talk to someone who’s been there before and can help you see the possibilities ahead of you.” 

Andy Bevers, Vice President, Head of Derivatives Coverage, couldn’t agree more, attributing his career success to a chance connection with his mentor. 

“Having someone in my corner who showed me the ropes, advocated for me and helped me make connections in the industry was absolutely instrumental to my career,” he says. “Since I experienced the benefits firsthand, I have always been a big proponent of mentorship and I’m so excited to pay it forward through Empowers.” 

Stephanie Foley, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, emphasizes how essential it is for Cboe to lead the way in opening the door for the next generation of leaders. 

“We know how important diversity is to the success and strength of a business. Bringing in a variety of voices and perspectives to your organization can only make it better,” Stephanie says. “But you can’t be what you can’t see, which is why we’re working with these students to help them find what they want to do and connect with role models who they relate to so they can bring their skillset to the next level.” 

Kelli reiterates Stephanie and Andy’s sentiments. 

“The scholarship is important, because it eliminates one huge hurdle, but the mentorship program is key to making sure our Empowers Scholars have the support they need to reach their full potential.” 

All-in-all, Kelli says, Cboe Empowers and the Empowers Scholars Program are an opportunity for Cboe to build the future it wants to see – one that’s equitable, diverse and inclusive, where all young people have the chance to pursue their goals. 

“At Cboe, we strongly believe in the value of diversity, equity and inclusion and we want that embedded in the next generation so people from under-represented backgrounds don’t have to fight so hard just to get to the same starting point as everyone else,” she says. “Our hope is that by continuing to do our part, we can give more young people the opportunity to reach their full potential.”